JULY 23 2011

This recipe marked a number of firsts for me: first time using a whole vanilla bean, first time cooking with gelatine and the first time making panna cotta. I must say, it all seemed to go pretty smoothly! First I scraped the insides out of the vanilla bean.

scraped vanilla bean

Then stirred the gelatine into cold water to "soften". It ended up looking kinda weird, but I guess that's probably how it's supposed to look!

softened gelaine

The next step was to scald the cream. This was the hardest part because I wasn't sure I would recognize when the cream had reached "the barest of simmers". So I made a judgement call and when the surface was just starting to ripple, pulled it off the heat and whisked in the nutella, vanilla bean guts and softened gelatine. But I still wondered, was the simmer too bare? Or not bare enough? Too late to do anything now so... just keep whisking! Then pour into some cute little containers and stick in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

poured and ready to chill

As soon as they had been chillin' for 3 hours, I busted one out to test. My immediate impression: "this is not hazelnut panna cotta... this is chocolate pudding!" In fact, it tastes almost exactly like a Jello pudding snack, same texture too.  I had my suspicions from the beginning that using nutella as the main ingredient would make them way more chocolate-y than hazelnut-y and this definitely proved true. But I'm not giving up on them yet... maybe the texture will firm up as it chills longer.

pudding snack :(
I busted into a second one after they had chilled for about 8 hours. Pretty much the same and I am not impressed. My ideal panna cotta has a less creamy texture than these pudding snacks; it is more like jelly and maintains it's structure even as you're eating it. So these really didn't live up the my expectations. And here I was thinking I could take this recipe as a base and make all kinds of lovely flavors... basil? or blueberry? But now I think I will look elsewhere if I decide to try panna cotta again.

If you like chocolate pudding, by all means... do this recipe!

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